Bertha Convening: A Synergy for Change

Transfixed in my seat, feeling the energy of a collective striving for change and human rights – this is how I felt at the 2017 Bertha Convening, where I sat amongst peers championing for human rights.

In reflection, the Convening truly provided a rare opportunity for legal peers and community representatives from different platforms around the country to come together, shed light on, and interrogate current and deeply entrenched issues plaguing the vulnerable and marginalised in our country.  Some of the issues that were raised were of violence against transgender persons, and of mining companies overriding the consent of rural communities by mining on their land. We listened to the plight of farm workers who continue to live on farms where they experience oppression not dissimilar to the Apartheid regime.

Bertha convening 2017

Community representatives reminded us young lawyers that we do not need to be lawyers to fight against injustice, as the very essence of a human rights violation is that it encroaches upon one’s humanity. However, they also reminded us of the importance of our role as lawyers in hacking at the chains that still bind so many to oppression of some form. Further, how valuable it is for lawyers and communities to partner if we want to create the change we envision.

Bertha convening 2017_Marikana

The law remains a fundamental tool to challenge the status quo, and help realise the promises made in the Constitution. Lawyers cannot do this without truly getting the perspective of the communities we represent, and whose lives ultimately will be improved by the cases we pursue. The Convening created a supportive space to nurture such a collaboration, and to gain from and learn the different perspectives on these challenging issues.

I will end off by saying that this was my first Bertha Convening and I cannot wait for the next one.

Naushina Rahim – 2017 Bertha Justice Fellow

The Annual Bertha Convening is supported by the Bertha Foundation. We would like to thank them for their support of the next generation of young human rights lawyers. Read more about the Bertha Foundation and Bertha Fellows here: 

Bertha convening 2017_Group

Should fracking happen in South Africa?

Photo: No Fracking Signs at Prince Albert – by Danie van der Merwe (Flikr)

The threat of fracking has been imminent in South Africa for almost a decade. But South Africa is just not ready for fracking. There are many detrimental effects of this mining activity on communities and the environment.  The regulatory requirements to mediate these effects are also not present. Allowing fracking to take place in South Africa would simply be disastrous.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a technique used to extract gas from deep underground, which involves digging wells up to four kilometres deep. A mixture of water, sand and chemicals is injected at high pressure to crack shale rock formations and release the gas, which is then brought to the surface.

History of Fracking in South Africa

Fracking is not a new practice and dates back to the 1860s in the United States but started being used commercially in 2009. Currently, almost 95 percent of US states use fracking techniques. In South Africa, formal interest in fracking began in 2008; the potential areas of interest being in the Karoo and parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN). Since then, there have been a number of applications for exploration rights from companies such as Bundu Oil and Gas, Shell SA and Falcon Gas and Oil.

The threat of litigation around the imperfections of this process, and around the absolute lack of investigation into the technology and its impacts, resulted in the Minister of Mineral Resources, Susan Shabangu, declaring a moratorium on the issue of exploration licences in April 2011. The Department of Minerals and Resources (DMR) was instructed to set up a task team to explore the implications of fracking, the feasibility of the gas extraction, as well as its impact on the environment.

At that time, no timeline was given for when research would be conducted. The Minister commissioned a report from a group of different government agencies to inform her about whether fracking should go ahead or not. The problem with the task team responsible for the report was that it excluded representatives from key government departments. Only certain voices were heard in the report. This omission does not reflect administrative justice, a right to which we are entitled under the Constitution.

In September 2012, a little over a year later, the moratorium was lifted. Cabinet endorsed recommendations of the report on the lifting of the moratorium and mandated the Minister of the DMR to hold a series of public consultations with interested and affected stakeholders to provide further details.

Possible pollution events associated with fracking

Fracking typically requires 1000-2000 large truckloads of water, which means thousands of wells will require truckloads of water to be transported to the fracking site at significant environmental cost. Most of South Africa’s surface fresh water (98%) has already been allocated to existing users. This raises the question of how the fracking industry will source the millions of litres of water it will need to undertake its operations.

Fracking entails the pumping of toxic chemicals at high pressure, with water and sand, into underground shale rock formations. Some of the fracking liquid returns to the surface after use, and has to be disposed of without causing harm to the environment. The fracking liquid often consists of both toxic and radioactive sludge, which must be transported to hazardous waste management sites.

The most serious environmental concern related to fracking is that of ground water contamination. The potential risk to ground water comes from two sources: the injected water (water and chemicals) and the released natural gas. The water used in drilling shale gas is fused with sand and chemicals (corrosive inhibitors, surfactants, iron control chemicals, biocides, friction reducers and scale inhibitors). When these are injected down the well, there is a strong possibility of polluting underground water. Freshwater reserves can also be contaminated when the fluid is spilt at the site of the wells or in other accidental spills.

Fracking can release gas and / or vapour into the atmosphere. These emissions are either of original additive chemicals, entrained contaminants from the shale formation or the methane released by the fracking process. There is an ongoing debate about the relative leakage of methane into the atmosphere from the exploitation of shale gas in comparison to the emission rate from conventional gas. This is potentially important because a high leakage rate might mean that methane released into the atmosphere from shale gas extraction could have a higher net greenhouse gas footprint, than, for example, coal. Fracking operations should, therefore, seek to minimize all emissions into the atmosphere and monitoring processes need to be actively enforced.

Lastly, shale gas development involves continuous activity conducted over a sustained period of time (this can vary considerably, but is often several years) over the entire course of a day, seven days a week. The noise of compressors, generators and drilling, extensive truck movements, intrusive un-natural lighting overnight and the release of bad smelling chemicals can have significant negative health and well-being impacts on nearby communities, especially in the context of quiet rural and semi-rural areas that also relatively densely populated.

Do we have the regulatory requirements to undertake fracking?

What are the regulatory conditions that currently exist that would affect fracking? The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act (MPRDA) is the central statute that governs applications for and the granting of rights and permits to conduct shale gas extraction. The requirement for the submission and approval of an Environmental Management Plan (EMP) for an exploration and production right allows for the potential environmental impacts of shale gas extraction to be investigated prior to such activities being conducted.

If waste will be generated by any activity, an assessment as to whether the National Environmental Management Water Act (NEMWA) applies to the activity will need to be made and, if required, any requisite waste management licenses applied for and obtained prior to starting any activity requiring the management of the waste.

Should any company succeed with exploration, a water use license in terms of the National Water Act is to be secured through applications for individual or integrated water use licenses. Various factors will have to be considered for the granting of the licence – one of which is the availability of resources.

How effective are these measures to mitigate the impacts of fracking?

Should the South African government decide to issue exploration and production rights for shale gas fracking, the least we can expect is an appropriate regulatory regime that is implemented, monitored and enforced. The current fracking regulations and the current pollution control laws do not achieve this.

We do not have the capacity or will at local – and national government level to do the basics of waste management, such as collecting solid waste, preventing dumping, closing down illegal mining operations and controlling sewage and industrial pollution. We simply will not be able to handle the extra burden of fracking waste once fracking activities begin.

Fracking can be extremely water-intensive, depending on the precise techniques used. This may pose risks in the KZN Midlands, and other parts of the country which are currently experiencing drought conditions.

In theory, it seems that South Africa’s pollution control laws do allow for mining; however, due to the nature of fracking, the current pollution control laws may not be sufficient to deal with the detrimental and long-term effects of fracking.

The environmental impacts of conventional mining in South Africa have never been regulated effectively. To the extent that appropriate regulations do exist, their implementation has been ineffective. As a result, mining has had, and continues to have, significant negative impacts on the environment. Many of these impacts, such as acid mine drainage, cannot be easily remedied and will continue to impose heavy financial, health and environmental costs on society for the foreseeable future.

I would argue then, that with the current regulatory environment, as well as the potential harm caused by fracking, the government will need to rethink its regulatory regime before allowing fracking to happen.

by: Shaun Bergover, candidate attorney

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the Realising Rights bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Legal Resources Centre. The Legal Resources Centre is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the bloggers.

Peoples’ Right to Development

African Regional and International Legal Perspectives

In a context where corporate investment is commonly justified in the name of “development,” the question of what exactly “development” is, is central to the design of a binding instrument on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (Treaty).

On Wednesday 26 October 2016, 30 members of civil society, state representatives and academia met at the Palais du Nationes in Geneva to discuss and debate the evolution of the “right to development.” In particular, this was considered in the context of African regional perspectives on the peoples’ right to development, including an extension of the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) beyond a narrow conception of indigenous peoples.

Moderated by Dominic Renfrey of ESCR-Net, the roundtable discussion benefited from interventions from Akhona Mehlo of the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Susan Mathews of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Caroline Ntaopane from Womin (African Women United Against Destructive Resource Extraction), Nomonde Nyembe of the Centre for Applied Legal Studies of the University of Witwatersrand, and Roberto Bissio of Social Watch. Through a series of questions, these interventionists guided a stimulating and through-provoking discussion.


What is development?

Caroline Ntaopane opened the discussion by affirming that everyone has a right to development, including the right to say what type of development they want; especially women. Caroline, who has nine years of experience working with women in rural communities in remote South Africa, explained some of the problems that women in rural areas face, including illiteracy, oppression by men, violence and sexual violence, and significant household burdens. Women face discrimination in land tenure and customary laws, which are typically patriarchal. It is common for women to only be able to exercise control over their land through their husbands or brothers, and they lack decision-making power, which is often taken advantage of by businesses and government in cahoots with chiefs or other male authority figures.

Nomonde Nyembe addressed the fallacy of “economic development” and pursued the idea of the nature of true development. Nomonde explained that it is a misconception that gross domestic product (GDP) growth leads to real development. Even the World Bank acknowledges that it is widely recognised now that development is more than this, and other indicators like UNDP’s Human Development Index include life expectancy and literacy. World Bank statistics indicate that 46.8% of sub-Saharan Africans live in a state of poverty. Nomonde argued that the current favoured model of development perpetuates cycles of poverty through supplying survival, rather than living, wages, denying people access to their land, and denying people agency and self-determination.

Poverty is an amalgamation of human rights violations, including water, education and food. As such, when talking about development, Nomonde explained that we need to reframe the discourse to include social and cultural factors; development that facilitates self-determination and serves the most impoverished. Development can have economic outcomes but not be prioritised over other relevant components such as social and environmental concerns, for example, housing and water infrastructure. Development should seek to achieve these goals and be sustainable in the long-term – not harming the environment or people’s livelihoods. In order for this to occur, we need genuine engagement with communities and planning that incorporates all parties. The right to development is a peoples’ rights; one that is held by both individuals and held by peoples as a collective. Development should give effect to this.

Akhona Mehlo of the Legal Resources Centre discussed the procedural and substantive elements of the right to development under the African Charter. Within this framework, Akhona emphasised the need to recognise the customary rights to land and natural resources of affected communities as property rights, whether documented or not. Rural communities across Africa have, for generations, utilised land, forests, marine and other resources in terms of their customary laws, making them owners or rights’ holders of the land and resources. The community’s relationship to the land and resources commonly developed as an integral part of their identity and cultural existence. Customary law refers to the system of rules and principles that the communities use to govern themselves and their access to shared resources. The term “customary communities” refers to communities who regulate their lives and tenure rights in terms of such customary law.

Akhona argued that pursuant to the peoples’ right to development, the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of all communities with customary rights to the affected land and resources is required for development projects to go ahead. FPIC is in itself a procedural and substantive right that includes the protection of peoples’ right to full and timely disclosure of all relevant information prior to the approval of the project, the recognition of and respect for the customary decision-making processes of the affected communities and, ultimately, the right to say “no” to a project. The need for investors to recognise this is demonstrated by the ability for communities to halt or delay projects through activism.

To what degree is law and policy helping? Where can we bridge divides in progress we see with law?

Roberto Bissio acknowledged the realities of and the struggles faced by women in Africa. He emphasised that the notion of rebalancing power is key. Robert argued that transnational corporations have been granted rights under international investment agreements that ordinary citizens do not have; for example, the right to sue the host government in an international arbitration panel.

Further, courts in the US and the UK recognise corporations as “people” and are granting them “human rights”, such as the right to privacy in the UK (therefore keeping their tax declarations secret) or the right to contribute to political campaigns in the US, where issuing a cheque in support of a candidate has been constructed as protected under freedom of speech. The result of the increasingly unequal bargaining power between transnational corporations and people is concentration of power and increasing inequalities. He emphasised the adage that people have rights and corporations have privilege. Whereas rights are inalienable, privilege is conditional and revocable – a social value that can be taken away.

Roberto then provided an international perspective on the right to development and highlighted certain key provisions in the United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development. For example, article 8 provides that people should have equality of opportunities (such as health and education) and a right to a fair distribution of income. He emphasised that the right to development explicitly includes the right of women to have an active role in development and the duty of governments to encourage popular participation. In this respect, Roberto referenced that other human rights instruments, such as the International Convention on Economic Social and Cultural Rights require international cooperation through inter-state obligations. The right to development, he added, also imposes obligations on governments towards their own citizens, that is, intra-state rights.

Susan Mathews showed how “development” was historically conceived of as an ordering of the world in postcolonial times, by quoting the 1951 United Nations, Department of Social and Economic Affairs, Measures for the Economic Development of Underdeveloped Countries:

There is a sense in which rapid economic progress is impossible without painful adjustments. Ancient philosophies have to be scrapped, old social institutions have to disintegrate, bonds of caste, creed and race have to burst, and large numbers of persons who cannot keep up with progress have to have their expectations of a comfortable life frustrated. Very few communities are willing to pay the full price of economic progress.

Susan referred to Arturo Escobar’s 1995 book “Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the Third World,” explaining Escobar’s view about development as a dream and imaginary; a siren call to societies emerging from their postcolonial histories. Susan pointed out the continued relevance of Escobar’s critique, including that “[p]erhaps no other idea has been so insidious, no other idea gone so unchallenged.” Her perspective on development is that it is captivating, but also holds us captive as an end or goal. In Africa, as in Asia, development representations continue to dominate our thinking, our governance and the paths we take in the name of development. Instead, the idea of right to development should be turned on its head and taken out of its political trappings to reimagine it as peoples’ agency and resistance to dominant development models. Such rethinking is a necessity given the contemporary environmental challenges we face. Transitioning out of carbon-dependent paths is no longer a luxury, it is crucial. In spite of this, Africa’s mega regional Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) agreement is presently being designed to focus on industrialization’s past, not its future.

She referenced Susan Sontag who wrote that our privileges fall on the same map as our suffering, arguing that with the idea or dream of development, this could not be truer. “Development” gives and it takes away. In order for us to break or challenge that vicious cycle, peoples’ agency and resistance must come to the fore.

How can the peoples’ right to development be made operational for overcoming power differentials on the ground? How does a distinctly African understanding of the peoples’ right to development and FPIC make it into a UN Treaty discussion where the elements might be understood more strictly?

Caroline explained that there is a distinct gap between what is talked about in international forums such as this second session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, and what actually occurs on the ground. For example, at the United Nations, a country might present good people who talk about positive things such as the need to for a legally binding instrument to make sure corporate investment-related abuse stops, but this good will and intent is not seen in-country and  on the ground. Caroline emphasised that the peoples’ right to development can only be realised if the right to environment is protected, including healthy soil for food production, clean water and clean air. In terms of practicalities, transparency is key and, given the cost of lawyers for communities to prove they have been affected by an investment, a reversal of the burden of proof would go some way to rebalancing power dynamics.

Nomonde talked about the gap between instruments and actions in the context of the Amadiba community in Xolobeni, Eastern Cape. The people there do not want extractives as their form of development and are opposing it by all means possible. Earlier in the year, one of their leaders, Sikhosiphi “Bazooka” Rhadebe, was murdered as a result of state and investor resistance to this community opposition. Nomonde discussed the importance of the informed element of FPIC, and highlighted the differences in community members’ conception of development, such as ecotourism and local business initiatives, as compared to the state and mining companies.

The LRC has been representing this community in a number of cases. CALS has intervened in one of the cases wherein it contends that self-determination (which is even wider than FPIC) aligns with FPIC and that, accordingly, people can decide for themselves how they live their lives and make their own decisions. Importantly, these rights are not limited to indigenous peoples, as communities such as those in Xolobeni might not satisfy requirements of indigeneity, but to communities that govern themselves by their own systems of customary laws and are considered customary communities.

At this point in the discussion, a number of fascinating statements and questions were posed by audience members:

  • It is implied in the word “consent” that such consent can be withheld at any stage in the process. Is this understanding shared by those with great power, that is, states and TNCs?
  • Communities are pluralist with inequalities and different views – how is this dealt with in practice?
  • The manner in which development is talked about is a major constraint for Africa. Too many members of civil society buy into the extractives paradigm as the only route for development in Africa and so seek to help negotiations, but will that work? Is that the way out of poverty for Africans? So far it has not proven to be. Robust debate about development in Africa is needed. Instead of top-down economic development, people want protection of rural small scale farmers, prevention of land acquisition for commodity exports instead of staple foods, and protection of the environment.
  • It must be recognised that there is always going to be some degree of hostility within communities, but so too must it be recognised that there is a legacy of colonialism that companies take advantage of. How can this dynamic be reflected in law? Can it?
  • How does the consent principle really operate in practice within a community? For example, how do gender dynamics play out, and how can a person external to the community determine if consent is real? How can corporations ensure the consent is genuine, and how can the law hold them to this?
  • Corporations have different motives when considering what “development” is, in particular, profit motives. How can we ensure that corporations contribute to real development while still harnessing their goals?
  • How can the term “communities” be defined and how can conflict inter- and intra- community conflict be adjudicated? Under the consent element of FPIC, should the right be an absolute veto or some kind of mechanism for balancing? How can compensation be determined if people have to leave their land?

Roberto picked up on the environmental points raised and explained that the heart of the dilemma that developing countries face at the international level is that they need to conserve the environment and biodiversity on the one hand, but also secure funds to deliver antipoverty measures such as health services and education. He referred to the example of Ecuador and the oil reserves of Yasuní in the Amazon. If the Yasuní resource is exploited, indigenous peoples and biodiversity – that is, all of humanity – suffer. On the other hand, Ecuador is a poor country and needs the income. Ecuador proposed that in order to leave the oil in the ground, the international community should compensate for global benefits, suggesting that half of what Ecuador would have earned for exploiting that oil (USD6bn) be paid by the international community. USD200m was pledged, of which only USD13m was delivered. Ecuador announced that oil exploration might eventually be resumed. The Yasuní example, Roberto concluded, warns against voluntary guidelines and pledges in the international setting. He contended that these non-binding statements are nice but cannot be brought to the bank to solve real problems.

Akhona took on some of the questions relating to the nuance of the term “community.” She explained that extending the peoples’ right to development and FPIC beyond indigenous communities to customary communities is necessary in Africa. In terms of the broader term of affected communities, that is more of a political issue and should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Akhona recognised the inequalities and intersectionalities within communities and referenced some of the issues faced where chiefs (sometimes legitimate in title, sometimes illegitimate) claim community compensation that is not necessarily then fairly distributed. Concerns that customary law can exclude women are legitimate, but it is important to understand that the South African Constitution provides that customary law needs to be infused with the values and rights enshrined therein, such as equality and dignity. Akhona emphasised the importance of site-specific determination of community structures and values, in order to apply the broader rights and principles.


At this point, Dom highlighted that there are similarities between customary communities in Africa and Mexican “Ejido” – lands held communally in the traditional system of land tenure – flagging the potential cross over for inter-regional discussion. Dom further emphasised that FPIC is not a tick box exercise that can be checked off at the start of a project; it refers to both conduct and result. Critique of the UNGPs helps us outline conduct, but we need to go a step further and recognise that the peoples’ right to development is not fulfilled unless shown in the results. Dom also suggested that not only are we dealing with collective rights, but we must also think about collective obligations. These concepts must be extended to questions of corporate liability.

Caroline pointed out that air pollution knows no boundaries. She also emphasised the importance of development processes being proactive and not just reactive, as remedy is sometimes inadequate. The example given was of an Eskom power station that local peoples did not want to be built, as the selected site was a sacred location where graves of ancestors lay. In spite of this, the graves were relocated. Sometimes compensation can never be adequate, as their ancestry was literally dug up and removed.

Susan posed Cooke and Kothari’s notion of participation as tyranny, where people participate in “development” and yet became disempowered when they cannot change the status quo. In this sense, participation also brings into play questions of representation, who speaks and on whose behalf, as benefits are distributed in quite complex ways. Consent has a legal definition but it is not a neutral concept. It is mediated through knowledge and power. Asymmetries in terms of information and temporal components of FPIC must be addressed in order for the basis of any consent to remain viable.

Nomonde argued that there is an obligation on corporations to do no harm, that is, to respect human rights. On the topic of positive obligations (taking action that enables realisation of human rights) and negative obligations (refraining from action that harms), she believes that corporations have both positive and negative obligations. For example, if a mining company uses migrant labour and new communities are established near the mine for those workers but are without services, the company should provide those services.

What now?

There remain many questions to be answered. What this event and the ensuing discussion showed is that “development” and the peoples’ right to development are central concepts when talking about corporate and state investment and projects. Only if those who are directly affected by a proposed project are able to genuinely engage in the process, and only if customary and indigenous communities can choose what path they – as a community – take, can “development” be truly said to occur.

As Dom forewarned, it is incumbent upon civil society working on these issues to find answers to these difficult questions. If gaps are left, then such gaps could be filled by others with different intent.

*featured picture shows Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape

Article by: Anna Bulman, Research Fellow at the Legal Resources Centre

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the Realising Rights bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Legal Resources Centre. The Legal Resources Centre is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the bloggers.

Women’s Month 2016: Seeking a protection order

Empowering Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence One Protection Order at a Time

Any conversation surrounding South African women’s empowerment would be incomplete without a thorough discussion of domestic violence, as women’s inability to assert power and control over their lives, in a nation with the highest rates of domestic violence, is often the direct result of the abuse they endure in the context of domestic relationships. Moreover, to ensure women overcome such abuse, the mechanisms and laws put in place to protect them must be publicized.

The following is a discussion of protective orders, South Africa’s primary legal mechanism provided for victims and survivors of abuse who wish to end the cycle of domestic violence once and for all.

First and foremost, it is important to identify if you are, in fact, a victim of domestic violence; as only those who fall into certain categories are guaranteed protection under The Domestic Violence Act 116 of 1998 which governs court-issued protective orders. The categories are as follows:

  • Civil/customary/religious/foreign marriages
  • Same and opposite sex couples who live together
  • Families living in same house and minor children
  • Unrelated people living in the same house
  • People dating or sexually involved
  • Engaged couples
  • Children in the care/custody of an adult

Step 1: Determine if You are Being Abused
Once it is established you are involved in one of various recognised domestic relationships, you must then determine if the abuse you are being subjected to warrants a legal protection order. Examples are as follows:

  • Physical (hitting, punching, kicking, pushing)
  • Sexual (forced or threatened sexual intercourse/oral sex)
  • Emotional (attempts to control how you think, what you do, who else you communicate with)
  • Verbal (insults, name calling, shouting, and swearing)
  • Economic (refusing to give money for you and your children’s needs)
  • Harassment/Stalking (sms, email, telephone or in person contact without your permission)

Step 2: Apply for a Protection Order
File an application for a protection order at the nearest Magistrate’s Court. Be sure to bring with you all relevant information about the perpetrator (i.e. name, telephone number, home and/or work address, and any record of physical injuries from your doctor).
Court clerks and/or representatives from organizations such as the Legal Resources Centre or MOSAIC should be available to assist you in wording the application properly.

Step 3: Obtain a Protection Order
Once your application has been filed by a clerk, the Magistrate will either issue an interim order based on proof of abuse, or schedule a hearing where both parties must present evidence to determine if an order should be granted.You can appoint an attorney to represent you. If the perpetrator has an attorney, then you qualify to receive legal aid assistance.

Step 4: Feel Protected
When a final order is made, a warrant of arrest is also issued. The police will use the warrant to arrest the perpetrator if he violates the protection order.
The perpetrator will be served notice of the protection order at one of the provided addresses, which prevents the abuser from:
• committing an act of domestic violence
• enlisting the help of another person to commit any such act
• entering a residence shared by the complainant and the respondent
• entering a specified part of such a shared residence
• entering the complainant’s residence
• entering the complainant’s place of employment
• preventing the complainant who ordinarily lives or lived in a shared residence from entering or remaining in the shared residence or a specified part of the shared residence or
• committing any other act as specified in the protection order

Make sure to keep a copy of your own in a safe, but easily accessible, place

Step 5 – Enforce Your Protection Order
In the event the protection order is violated, CALL THE POLICE and inform them you have a protection order and that the perpetrator has violated the order. Show them the order and, if there is a threat of imminent harm, they must arrest the perpetrator.

Make sure that calling the police will not endanger you or your children by doing your best not to inform the perpetrator the police have been contacted, as this may lead to further abuse.

While there are no guarantees that a perpetrator will adhere to the restrictions set forth in protection orders, by following the steps toward obtaining one, you are making the conscious decision to break the cycle of abuse and take the steps necessary to empower yourself, your children, and others impacted by the harmful environment created by domestic violence.

For more information related to protection orders, visit:

This post was developed as an informative tool for women. Please visit your nearest LRC office for further advice and assistance. Written by Ambur Smith